A group of women holding a Ukrainian flag. A group of women holding a Ukrainian flag.

Security, reconstruction and peace: Rebuilding step by step

From dance studios to fashion ateliers: small businesses are giving Ukrainians hope during the war.

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Rebuilding step by step

A dream has come true for dancer Liliya Polyakova: despite the war, she has reopened her dance studio at a new location in Kyiv. Liliya originally comes from Mariupol. She had to give up her studio there because of the security situation. The basement it was located in was converted into an air-raid shelter for employees, members and families. She ultimately decided to seek refuge in Kyiv.

Liliya Polyakova is one of around five million internally displaced persons currently in Ukraine according to estimates by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). She had to make many sacrifices as a result. For Liliya Polyakova, however, her displacement also means a new beginning. She opened her own dance studio a month after arriving in Kyiv. She received support from the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH: ‘The microgrant helped me reopen the dance studio so that the children can dance again,’ says the entrepreneur.

Ca. 150 Leute sitzen in einem großen Zelt und schauen auf eine Leinwand, auf der eine Filmszene läuft.


Jobs provide security and prospects in times of crisis

On behalf of the European Union (EU) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), GIZ is supporting small enterprises in Ukraine through the EU4Business programme with microloans and advisory services. Since the start of the war and in the coming years, for example, GIZ has provided 1,130 grants totalling EUR 7.4 million. Small enterprises play a key role in the Ukrainian economy. They create jobs and secure income. Above all, however, a functioning economy gives people prospects.

This applies to Liliya Polyakova and her dance studio, too. The funding not only enabled her to rebuild her own livelihood. The courses in classical and modern dance also give 40 pupils renewed joy in everyday life during the war. Three of them also fled Mariupol. ‘Dancing is a part of home for the children,’ says Liliya Polyakova. ‘Now they can attend their favourite classes again’.

Ca. 150 Leute sitzen in einem großen Zelt und schauen auf eine Leinwand, auf der eine Filmszene läuft.


A strong economy helps in joining the European Union

GIZ supports small businesses in continuing to operate within Ukraine, and also helps them in connecting with the European market. Microloans for investments are one example. Specialised training gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to further develop their skills. Network meetings enable intense dialogue with customers and investors. In total, GIZ has supported more than 20,000 companies with around 3,800 activities of this kind.

Yevgeniya Melnyk runs one of them. The designer travelled to Germany with GIZ’s support. Together with five other talented young Ukrainian designers, she presented her collection at Berlin Fashion Week. GIZ provided them with media training, for example so that they can gain the support of influencers to publicise their labels. It was a success. The media reported on the collections, and buyers and stylists have already shown an interest.

‘As one of the creative industries, the fashion sector has great potential to strengthen the Ukrainian economy through exports,’ says Daryna Dvornichenko. She is the coordinator of GIZ's EU4Business programme. ‘Young designers can make important contacts at Berlin Fashion Week in order to become visible on the European market market.’ In this way, the export of Ukrainian goods, such as fashion items, to other European countries can be strengthened in the long term. This not only creates jobs, but also gives people prospects.

Last update: November 2023

Additional information


Children enter a reconstructed school in Ukraine.

Ukraine: Learning to rebuild and rebuilding to learn